Four Catholic Priests from Santa Clarita Named in Nationwide Abuse Case
By Devon Miller
October 17, 2018
|Father Richard M. Martini during a tour of Our Lady Of Perpetual Help (OLPH) in 2012.|
Four Catholic priests with ties to the Santa Clarita Valley have been named in a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, according to a report released this month.
Priests who have been employed at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) in Newhall are included in a 120-page report of sexual abuse allegations released by the attorneys of Thomas Emens, who filed a suit on Oct. 2 in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
The report contained more than 300 names of clerics from the Los Angeles Archdiocese who have been accused of sexual abuse. Emens is suing bishops in California for allegedly covering up sexual abuse, according to the lawsuit.
The California Catholic Conference said in a statement Wednesday, they use safety measures including background checks and fingerprinting.
The organization has a zero-tolerance standard and training that were implemented years ago and these safe environment programs aid students and staff in identifying and preventing abuse, according to church officials.
“These measures have been effective,” the statement said. “Allegations of abuse have been rare since 2003, responded to and uniformly reported, but we know we can never be complacent.”
The twelve dioceses of California will never waver in their commitment to protect young people, the organization said.
The report filed by the defendant’s attorneys details allegations of four Catholic priests with connections to Santa Clarita:
Father Richard M. Martini, assigned to OLPH from 2011-2014.
Fr. Richard M. Martini worked at Our Lady Queen of Angels when he allegedly sexually abused a boy from approximately 1990 to 1991. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles claimed it investigated and found the allegation to be unsubstantiated.
In 2003, the survivor brought suit against the Archdiocese and a settlement was reached. Fr. Martini was included in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ list of priests accused of sexual misconduct involving minors.
It is believed Fr. Martini currently works at St. Joseph in Carpinteria and it is unknown whether he has access to children.
Father Roderic M. Guerrini, assigned to OLPH from 1981-1989
Fr. Roderic Guerrini joined the Jesuit Order in 1949. He was ordained in Ireland in 1963 and granted temporary faculties in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Fr. Guerrini was incardinated in the Archdiocese in 1988. In 1992, a woman alleged that Fr. Guerrini had inappropriately touched and kissed her in 1977 and 1978 when she was 15 years old at Santa Clara Parish in Oxnard.
The woman’s two sisters made similar complaints and law enforcement investigated the allegations. Fr. Geurrini was referred to a therapist in the early 1990s but was allowed to continue as a pastor at St. Mark in Venice.
He was named in a civil lawsuit in approximately 2003 and the claims were settled in 2007. Fr. Guerrini was included in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ list of priests accused of sexual misconduct involving minors.
He reportedly retired in 2002. Fr. Guerrini is believed to be residing at the Nazareth House in Los Angeles and his access to children is unknown.
Father John Ruhl, C.M., assigned to OLPH in 1971.
Fr. John Ruhl was a member of the Vincentian religious order. Fr. Ruhl has been accused of child sexual abuse by at least three people. Fr. Ruhl has been named in two civil lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse; one alleged abuse from approximately 1972 to 1973, and the other alleged abuse from approximately 1981 to 1982. In 1983, Fr. Ruhl was incardinated into the Diocese of Orange.
Shortly after this lawsuit was filed Fr. Ruhl took a leave of absence. Fr. Ruhl attended dinner every Friday night with the family of one of his victims.
According to Fr. Ruhl’s priest files that were released in 2013, in 1993 church officials noted that they had given Fr. Ruhl a lie detector test after a previous accusation had come to light, and said “that there was reason to suspect that there had possibly been other inappropriate behaviors.”
Ruhl was included in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ list of priests accused of sexual misconduct involving minors.
At one point, it is believed Fr. Ruhl was residing in Chicago, IL. Fr. Ruhl’s current whereabouts and whether he has access to children are unknown.
Father George Michael Miller, assigned to OLPH from 1964-1967.
Fr. George Miller allegedly sexually abused multiple boys in the 1970s and 1980s while he worked at Guardian Angel in Pacoima, California. Investigators allege he abused victims in the rectory, at a beach house, and at their homes.
Despite written allegations of sexual abuse in 1977, a firm denial of misconduct by Fr. Miller resulted in the decision of Cardinal Timothy Manning to keep Fr. Miller in ministry. In 1996, the Archdiocese received a complaint of sexual abuse against Fr. Miller.
In response to the complaint Cardinal Roger Mahony placed Fr. Miller on sick leave and eventually placed him on inactive leave in 1997, never to return him back to ministry. In 2002, Fr. Miller was arrested and charged with 24 counts of sex crimes against minors involving three boys. The charges were later dropped due to the statute of limitations.
Miller was arrested and eventually pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a nine-year-old boy from approximately 1988 to 1991. Fr. Miller also admitted to sexually abusing four other boys whose cases could not be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.
In 2009, Fr. Miller was sentenced to three years in prison and had to register as a sex offender for life. Fr. Miller was included in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ list of priests accused of sexual misconduct involving minors. It is believed that Fr. Miller died in June 2018.
Despite long tenures in Santa Clarita for some of these priests, none of the alleged incidents in the report occurred while they were assigned to OLPH.
Anyone with information regarding these priests should contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Unit at (661) 471-1500.